In the not-so-distant past, manual entry of medical information and physical filing systems were standard operating procedure for all medical offices. Doctors and staff had no choice but to write information down and then manually enter that data into office systems.
When a mandate requiring electronic medical records for all practitioners was passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), medical offices began to make the move to electronic records.
Today, medical practices are digitizing their documents and processes, and this extends beyond patient records to include coding and billing, patient invoicing and back office systems. One area where EMRs, as well as billing and coding systems, typically fall short is in their document management functionality.
Critical capabilities for electronic document management include a simple, easy-to- use interface, the ability to quickly, easily retrieve documents and integration with business applications, like Office 365, that ensure emails, letters, spreadsheets and other documents can all be stored and managed from one central location.
Document management integration with electronic medical records fills the gap, providing a robust document solution for easy, secure, HIPAA-compliant storage and retrieval of documents, as well as a consistent workflow for the entire office. The trend toward eliminating paper and digitizing the information that supports the patient journey is sure to continue due both to regulatory requirements and the positive impact it has on the quality of medical care and medical office efficiency.
How Electronic Records and Documents Help Put the Patient First
They improve the patient experience.
Inefficient records management can increase a patient’s time in the waiting room and keep doctors from spending time with patients. Documentation mistakes cause doctors to fall behind. Digitizing patient information and all associated documents allows doctors and office staff to spend less time inputting and gathering information and more time taking care of patients.
They heighten the quality of physician care.
Incomplete patient records delay treatment and impact the quality of a patient’s visit. Without a complete history of prescriptions and past visits, mistakes are made and continuity of care is impacted. When EMR and document management software are implemented together, a digital record of enrollment forms, insurance information, invoices and medical history is accessible within a few clicks.
How Electronic Documents Make Good Medical Offices Better
They increase staff productivity.
Reducing paper reduces requirements around faxing and mailing documents. At the front desk, staff members are able to put more effort and focus into face-to-face interactions instead of scurrying around for misfiled, incomplete or missing files. Digital access to the full range of patient information through document management software helps the staff stay on task and focus on the patients visiting the office.
They streamline office efficiency.
Duplication of effort and redundant filing are common problems in medical offices as a result of poor patient records management. With manual entry, the opportunity for error is always there. Using document management software alongside medical billing and coding software reduces manual entry errors. The combination of centralized records and digital workflows streamlines office operations – from processing payments to insurance claims.
Electronic Documents Benefit Medical Offices and Patients Equally
Patients, doctors and staff are all drowning in the same kinds of paperwork, and it all starts as soon as the patient walks in the door.
Not only does patient information management improve through electronic documents, but so does cash management. No more paper-based processes surrounding intake forms, insurance claims and payment reconciliation. Introducing electronic documents into the initial check-in and payment process alleviates headaches for staff and creates a seamless experience for patients.
Why the Urgency Around Going Paperless?
- Speeds up payment processing and enhances ability to see more patients without sacrificing quality of care or adding to the office cost structure
- Reduces costs associated with storing, managing and sending paper-based information
- Helps offices stay compliant by tracking storage and retrieval for each document
- Increases process and patient care transparency through digital workflows
- Improves information accuracy and control
How Medical Offices Get Started Using Document Management Software
Before introducing electronic documents, it’s important to perform an assessment of the document workflow:
- How does the office find, file, release and distribute medical records?
- What costs are associated with following the current process?
- What cost reductions and improvements in the quality of care could be realized by reducing the paper involved in the process?
Putting the emphasis on processes by answering these questions is the first step for offices looking to reduce paper dependence, operate more efficiently and provide better patient care.
Learn more about how document management software helps you to become a paperless office in less than 90 days.